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FORTIFIED WINE-GRAPE SPIRIT TAX; WINE INDUSTRY-TAX POLICY

Senator Messner, by leave, and pursuant to notice, moved the following motions together: (1) That the Senate condemns the Government for the introduction of a discriminatory wine impost and notes that- (a) the 1983 Budget imposition of an excise on grape spirit used in fortifying wine places at risk the future of the fortified wine industry in Australia;

(b) the requirement to pay the excise within 7 days of the fortification occurring is inequitable as returns to producers will not be received until the product is sold several years in the future;

(c) the excise will be reflected in increased costs to consumers of fortified wines of up to 100 per cent;

(d) producers of quality ports, sherries, muscats and other fortified wines will be encouraged either to withdraw from the market completely, thereby restricting consumer choice, or to reduce the maturation for such products, thereby reducing the quality;

(e) this excise will increase the costs of production of fortified wines for export, further disadvantaging Australian producers on overseas markets;

(f) the consequential reduction of fortified wine sales will be reflected in reduced intake of grapes from grapegrowers for these purposes, particularly from grapegrowers in the Riverland region of South Australia, the Leeton-Griffith district of New South Wales and the Sunraysia district in Victoria;

(g) this will increase the hardship suffered by grapegrowers in these areas causing severe economic problems in decentralised regions,

and it calls on the Government to either abolish this new impost or, at the very least, alter the payment of excise arrangements so as to only require payment when fortified wines are released for sale on the market.

(2) That the Senate, noting that- (a) at a meeting of winemakers and grapegrowers in the McLaren Vale district during the 1983 Federal Election campaign, the then Australian Labor Party spokesman on Primary Industry stated: ''Industry will welcome Labor's pledge not to contemplate a wine tax'';

(b) in its first Budget, the Hawke Australian Labor Party Government imposed a discriminatory tax on wine, namely, the introduction of an excise on grape spirit used in the production of fortified wines; and

(c) in the House of Representatives on Thursday, 25 August 1983, the Labor Member for Kingston who was at the McLaren Vale meeting stated: ''I regard that promise as being completely honoured as a result of the Budget . . . I reject any implication that the Government has not honoured its obligations to the wine industry'',

condemns the Government for not keeping its promises and regrets that the Member for Kingston shows such lack of regard for, and understanding of, the wine industry.

Debate ensued.

Senator Elstob addressing the Chair

Pursuant to Sessional Order, consideration of General Business was interrupted.